Sunday, July 17, 2011

My First and Favorite Korean Dish, Japchae

I love Korean food, but aside from a few dishes that use kimchi or recipes from my beloved Momofuku cookbook, I've never cooked any Korean dishes. Grilled pre-marinated bulgogi? Yes. Cooked a dish from start to finish? No. When I lived in New York, I worked on 34th and Madison, a real crappy part of town for good food. My saving grace was that I was a short walk from 32nd Street. For those in the know, this short block in Midtown is K-Town. I ate at a Korean deli called Woorijip at least twice a week, if not more because it was cheap and good. There was a rotating to-go buffet filled with spicy toppogi, tender bulgogi and my favorite, japchae.

I love cold noodles of any kind, so it's not surprising that I love this dish. It's surprisingly filling and pretty easy to make. It takes a little bit of time to prep all the veggies, but it's kind of soothing to just chop, marinate and mix. 

Considering that it's summer and you're probably craving something healthy and light, might I suggest this dish? I found a great recipe on Beyond Kimchee, a great blog for Korean recipes. Finding the ingredients, namely, the dang-myon sweet potato noodles, was pretty easy for me since there are quite a few Korean grocery stores in my neighborhood. I substituted pork for beef with nice results and used bok choy instead of Korean Spinach because...I don't know what Korean Spinach is. This substitute worked out well too. 

I don't have a pair of kitchen scissors so I skipped the step where you cut the cooked noodles into shorter strands. Big mistake. That is definitely not a step you want to skip, especially if you're going to try and eat this in public...say, at work in front of you computer. You will look very very silly and get sesame oil all over your screen. Sweet potato noodles don't break as easily as cellophane noodles or other glass noodles. You can't break off a bit with a little nibble. So you basically get a super long bunch of noodles in your mouth and you just have to keep stuffing your mouth until they're all in.

For the recipe, head over to Beyond Kimchee and give it a try!

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